It had been almost four days since I had left Mangalore; I had completely refreshed myself being in the forests of Meghalaya. Rich in biodiversity, this state has taken adequate steps to preserve it. Nevertheless, tourism has played havoc to the serenity of nature, disturbing the bio life to a large extent. In one way, people have to be blamed for that.
My experience in Khasi Hills so far was unimaginable and there were many in store for me. Our next must-see place in the itinerary was the Mawphlang Sacred forest, which is located on the East Khasi Hills. We were told that there are many such forests on the nearby hills such as Jaintia Hills; nonetheless, this forest has gained some significance.
Being a nature lover, I wanted to explore the flora and fauna in the forest, so we engaged a guide, who could share some of the intricacies of the sacred nature around. We hiked getting into the groves, which welcomed us with large and tall trees, believed to be over one thousand years old. Furthermore, these groves revealed rich flora and fauna. We saw a wide variety of flora belonging to different species.
Our guide showed us many medicinal plants, as well as some species of plants like taxa, which are endangered. There were many varieties of orchids, lianas and bryophtes in the forests. Walking further into the forest we saw it becoming dark for the sunshine could not penetrate the vast canopy of trees. The Mawphlang Sacred forest is considered to have a large percentage of older trees for regeneration of trees happens only at places where there is open because of natural tree fall.
We saw a few rudraksh trees and wanted to collect the seeds, but out guide prevented us doing so by narrating the story of the deity, Labasa, who lives in this forest in the form of tiger and protecting it. Though animal sacrifices are performed to please the deity, the tribal took care not to take anything from the forest to anger the deity. It is still believed that those who broke this taboo are punished.
After a long trek, we came out of the forest to visit the Khasi Heritage Village, which showcased the tribal culture and history. No doubt, it was a telling experience.